10 things I learned — or was reminded of — at the Center for Railroad Photography & Art annual conversations last weekend

Posted by Jim Wrinn
on Monday, April 13, 2015



Noted photographer J. Parker Lamb discusses his photography on stage. Photo by Brian Schmidt.

The Trains staff attended the Center for Railroad Photography & Art annual conference in Lake Forest, Ill., last weekend. Almost 175 attendees from across the continent and four foreign countries were represented. Here's what I learned while at the conference.

1. Charlie Castner, long-time spokesman for the Louisville & Nashville and long retired now, can still play a doggone good piano at age 85.

2. The Brits invented the concept of complaining about each other’s train photos using paper almost a century ago so it could be perfected before the Internet came along.


Attendees wait for the start of Sunday's presentations. Photo by Brian Schmidt.

3. Reading your own prose before an audience is a terrifying journey into self-editing, even if your story has been in print for 9-years.

4. Trash in your shot is good.

5. If every railroad had four documentarians recording them the likes of Ted Benson, Dick Dorn, Dale Sanders, and Dave Stanley (a la Western Pacific) we’d never lack for good images to tell the story.


Center Director Scott Lothes addresses the crowd at the start of Sunday's presentations. Photo by Brian Schmidt.

6. Great railroad photography is still about how hard you work for it, even if you are running with a pack of Nikon- and Canon-slingers.

7. Music and railroads are undeniably linked.

8. Slide shows after lunch should be labeled hazardous duty.

9. Finding the mouse hidden in every Cuneo painting gets more difficult every year.

10. Thank God for all the film images made of railroading. Double thanks for digital photography that replaced it.


California photographer Ted Benson introduces his latest book, and his coauthors, on Saturday afternoon. Photo by Brian Schmidt.

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